Reader Mail

Moving On Up

Our southern guests and neighbors -- how and when will it all end? Plus much more, including a fan letter to remember and a belated attempt at horseplay.

3.30.06

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HOPE FOR THE FUTURE
Re: TAS's writers and readers:

As a devoted Spectator reader, I get a tremendous lift each morning from the brilliant and creative words of R. Emmett Tyrrell, Ben Stein, Jed Babbin, Lisa Fabrizio and all of the other nimble minds who contribute regularly. Among those, I must count such Americans as the elegant Diane Smith, plain-spoken Elaine Kyle, steady Beverly Gunn and so many others. Sometimes it seems like the entire world is in shambles and only in the Spectator is it put right.

The real beauty of the Spectator is that it provides us with reminders of the blessed lives we can lead in America with all of its prosperity and promise. The Spectator reminds us of our struggles, conflicts, occasional failures and of our mutual hard-won freedoms, unique in all of the world's history. Most of all, the mere presence of such an array of great thinkers, writers and citizens offers me hope for the future of America and the world.

Much of what seems to trouble us today is a kind of national guilt over things like Vietnam, slavery, religion, abortion, our material wealth and our exalted place in the world. How that guilt is "managed" has led to the divide between red and blue America. Entities like the media, academia and the American left respond to this guilt by refusing to move ahead with life until all agree that white America has despoiled the Earth, sickened and enslaved our own minorities, waged cultural and religious war on benign foreign innocents and seeks to dominate the planet with this or that sinister profit-motivated conspiracy. Blue guilt can never be assuaged because the facts do not bear out their emotions and that, it seems, is why blue America is constantly angry and continuously offended by just about everything and everyone.

The voices that I read in the Spectator seem to have a wiser and more realistic approach. They seem to favor moving ahead in an imperfect world with hope that things like logic, facts, patriotism, courage, religious faith and traditional morality will carry us forward. Spectator columnists and readers are not angry, rarely resort to name-calling or vulgarity, are up on the facts and have the far more positive perspective on national and world events. They are, however, frustrated over the insincerity of the blue voices who cloak purely political motives in high sounding moral terms, intended somehow to induce us to share their shame and guilt (as well as the contents of our collective wallets).

I thank the Spectator for presenting rational views on so many interesting topics and for conducting lively, reasoned and thoughtful debate. So many wonderful writers and readers reflect what's best about America's past and present, as well as providing this reader with hope for the future of the world. Elaine, Diane and Beverly would never let us fall.
-- Deane Fish
Altamont, New York

CHOOSING SIDES
Re: Carol Platt Liebau's Immigration Ground Zero:

There is just one simple question that should be asked of President Bush and the United States Congress. Being duly elected in this republic, who do these sworn individuals represent, the American citizens or the Mexican government?
-- Melvin L. Leppla
Jacksonville, North Carolina

I just wanted to thank Carol Platt Liebau for her column on illegal immigration. She captures calmly what stirs me emotionally: a belief that this country is a special place that welcomes all, but should also expect a great deal from those who wish to immigrate here. Once the melting pot becomes a multicultural stew, this country will collapse. The melting pot is what has kept this country great, once it is no longer a collection of various nationalities combining into one stronger American identity, we will watch our country devolve into chaos. That is what most Americans know in their hearts, and that is what those who want to get a handle on the influx of illegals what to prevent. We love our country, and we only want those here who love it as we do.
-- Deborah Durkee
Marietta, Georgia

This is absolutely the best, most succinct summary of my feelings and beliefs on this subject. When Thomas Sowell's argument regarding the economics of immigration is overlaid on this piece, I think you have the perfect rationale for meaningful policy reform that any reasonable person could want or muster.

After the failings of the administration and Congress to cut the budget and use their simultaneous control of the legislative and executive branch to eliminate programs and departments in Reaganesque fashion, I and many Republicans will be watching this issue very closely. If something along the lines described by Ms. Liebau is not enacted, I will be voting for whoever is the challenger in the next Republican primary, and may or may not vote in the national election.

On a related topic, like many other red staters who have made contributions to the party over the years, I have stopped giving and it will be some time before I start again. I have paid and voted to get the Republicans into power SO THEY WILL ENACT LAWS I AGREE WITH. They haven't been doing that. Before they get paid anymore, I expect to see concrete results. The plea of "if you don't give, Democrats will get elected" is falling on deaf ears. We put you in office to do a job--and we can damn well put you out if you don't start doing what we sent you there to do.
-- Matt Patrick

Hear! Hear! I am an Hispanic fully cultured, assimilated and "Americanized," three generations removed from the countries of my heritage. My ambivalence about the immigration issue is slowly gravitating to the disposition she expresses. In particular I am impressed by the last sentence of the article, "...immigrating to America is a privilege to be cherished, not an entitlement to be demanded." It succinctly states a truth that perhaps because of its simplicity, is easily ignored in the current debate. Now, if only it were possible to convey this concept to that illiterate mass that functions strictly upon raw emotion, bereft of civil rationale.
-- O.A.

There is a contradiction in Carol Liebau's article... She says immigration laws need to be enforced, and then she says that illegal immigrants need to learn English.... Denny Hastert is going along with a guest worker program, so it looks like we've lost this one... We'd be better off to leave things as they are.
-- GK
Arizona

We're having the same problem up here in Canada, as some 120,000 illegal Portuguese are being deported as a beginning to getting the illegal immigrant problem under control. I am an American living in Canada legally, and it cost me $1,800 in fees and three years of intensive paper-gathering, traveling back and forth, and preparations to get my Permanent Resident card. The fact that some Portuguese family decided just to come over here and squat, planning to reap for free what I had to work and pay for, does not move me -- not even when I see them weeping at the airport as their free ticket back to the country where they legally belong is handed to them. The thing that bugs me most, though, is the loud howling that these people are "Honest and hard working" -- and have been "playing by the rules" -- when they are living here illegally, paying no taxes and yet sucking up benefits that are being extorted from my legally-earned paycheck.

Guest workers they are not. A Guest does not come in through the basement window and take up residence in my rec room without my permission; a Guest comes to the front door, rings the doorbell, and waits for me to admit him before he comes in -- and when his visit has expired, he goes home. People who come in on visitors' visas and never go home are not Guests. And they all need to go home
-- Kate Shaw

If I hear that phrase one more time, my head will explode. When 89 to 90 percent of the people in this country have been born here, stating that we are a nation of immigrants is insulting.
-- unsigned

Legal vs. illegal immigration is much in the news these days, in columns, blogs, cable news programs and talk radio. I'd like to share some information about my own immigrant ancestry which may be of some interest and. perhaps, shed some light on the problem.

My paternal grandfather James Boe emigrated from Bergen, Norway, as a boy of eight along with his father, mother, and four brothers. At the immigration center much trouble with spelling his name occurred because "oe" is an umlaut pronounced by extending the lips while saying "o." The official tried Bough, Bow, and others until in disgust he wrote Johnson, which was the family name of a Swedish family whom the Boes had met on the ship. The fact that this was OK with the Boes is the first indication that they were agreeable with assimilation.

As with many Scandinavians of the time, James Boe's (now James Johnson) father was solicited by our government which was passing out parcels of land along the Northern Pacific Railroad's right-of-way through the Dakota Territory and points west. It was advisable to populate that strip of land with farmers in order to generate shipping for the railroad. Norwegians, Swedes, and Finns were sought because of their familiarity with agriculture in frigid climes.

However the devastating weather in what is now North Dakota froze the Johnson family out and they moved to Iowa where some of them remain. James Johnson moved to Chicago where he met Theresa Kretz, daughter of a gentleman slipper-maker and symphony violinist who had emigrated from Strasbourg (then in Germany, but in France since 1919). They married and had seven children, two girls and five boys, the youngest of which was my father Benjamin James Johnson.

My grandfather died before I was born but my grandmother lived until I was six years old. In that time she taught me quite a bit of German, which has stayed with me to this day. She did so with my father, uncles, and aunts as well. But none of the children learned any Norwegian, and when asked why this was so, my grandfather would say, "We are in America now. We are Americans and we speak American."

The reason my grandmother spoke German is that she was born in Chicago in a German ghetto where German was the primary tongue and she didn't learn English until she married my grandfather. Does this sound like our Spanish-speaking enclaves, not to mention Korean and Chinese?

There will always be Mexican-Americans who don't learn to speak English because they don't need it. That's OK by me if that's what they prefer, but until they die of old age, their families will not assimilate. If that sounds harsh, remember that the Old Testament teaches us that God kept the Israelites wandering in the desert until all the old Jews who retained traces of Egyptian culture died out. Only then could Moses lead them to the promised land.

Our country is much different from the one which attracted my ancestors over one hundred years ago, but the situation has one thing in common: the immigrants who are raising the hackles of our citizens are needed in our economy in much the same way as the Scandinavians were needed along the Northern Pacific Railway. They perform services that we cannot -- or will not -- perform ourselves.
-- Bob Johnson
Bedford, Texas

This immigration mess that the Senate is trying to pass is a joke. Do these idiots really think that terrorist, criminals and such are going to rush to sign up and be checked out? If they do believe that then they need to be sent packing. They are mixing apples and oranges, yes we need immigrants, but they need to be LEGAL. Just how are you going to be able to deport these people that don't sign up, since the police can't even ask to see if someone is here legally. Do the people we sent to Washington really think Americans are that stupid? YES, they really do. If you want to help fight ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION go sign up at www.numbersusa.com you can send free faxes to the jerks in Washington.

Saw one of the protesters saying "we are not criminals." Well wonder what he thinks ILLEGAL means? Our immigration service missed a great chance to round up thousands of ILLEGALS and ship them home. They are carrying the flags of their countries so we should send them back to the country they love...poor things, maybe they can not afford to go. Swimming that river takes a lot out of you.
-- Elaine Kyle

The government knows who I am, where I live and can access my criminal, driving and tax records. I want the same thing for aliens while here in the U.S. The immigration policy that we have right now has a scary resemblance to that of the American Indians. They needed us for trinkets and we ended up owning the place. History might repeat itself if we are not careful.
-- Danny L. Newton
Cookeville, Tennessee

WRONG SIDE OF THE ECONOMY
Re: R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr.'s The Rise of Boltenism:

Seems the only RED ink the President does not like is in the VETO pen. Both houses are spending like it is not their money... Oh, wait it isn't their money it is ours.

We need term limits for both houses of Congress. Good enough for the President should be good enough for them also. I keep asking my Senators and Congressman what they think about term limits, but so far have not gotten one to answer me.
-- Elaine Kyle

No sooner had your cyber ink dried, Dr. Tyrrell, than the fourth quarter '05 GDP final growth figure only came in at 1.7 percent, with an upwards of a $3 trillion federal budget that kind of growth rate is not even close to superlative. As to inflation rates, unemployment rates, they are always either understated, overstated and finally subject to manipulation by statisticians, and assorted wizards to confound or deceive the average citizen. The consumer confidence index is no better than a yo-yo, it's a measure of feel-goodism, a trope of our materialistic society. That sure takes a lot of reflective and disinterested thought! What's alarming is that the Chinese hold nearly $900 billion of our national debt! What's alarming is the unfunded liabilities of the spurious and specious trust funds, labeled Social Security and Medicare! Our dollar is talked down and kept down by officialdom, not otherwise. An economy must be viewed from its fundamentals, not the perpetual bullishness of Lawrence Kudlow. Other than that, I'm bullish on Boltenism or Boltonism!
-- unsigned

BREAKING FREE
Re: Mark Gauvreau Judge's Thundering Theophobes:

Excellent article. Years ago when I was involved in the civil unions fight up here in Vermont, I used the writings from First Things and Fr. Neuhaus extensively, especially the article mentioned ("Judicial Oligarchy") by Robert Bork, among other articles. Now, a former editor is attacking this very institution, condemning what they are saying, and trying to put them into the very category that this guy is in. We had lost our freedoms to a tyrannical judiciary but now that is changing, so the liberals are coming out of the woodwork to fight what they know to be their Armageddon. It is interesting to see just where these people have been hiding. Let's smoke out a few more and maybe once that is done, we can really win this battle, since we will have unmasked the enemy for good.
-- Pete Chagnon

SOX A MESS
Re: Alex J. Pollock's Time to Reform Sarbanes-Oxley:

I find it interesting that the addresses just the accounting side of the impact of this act. The effect on IT departments has been tremendous as well. The company I currently work for has doubled the amount of paperwork due to SOX to put programs into production to be used by the end user. This makes it take longer to get the tools the workers need to get their work done and means we spend less time working on solutions and more time trying to get them into place.
-- Jeff
Powell, Ohio

JUDGING SLOGANS
Re: Quin Hillyer's Judge Knot:

Here's to more "beer through the nose" humor, but with no suitable quip coming to mind, I was "bound" to make a more serious comment.

OK, stay with me on this.

Republican politicians make poor sloganeers. Democrats lay awake nights thinking up new ones for the next news cycle; "Bush lied, people died," etc. Dearth of talent? I think not. One party has a serious political philosophy, the other doesn't. One cannot reduce the sublime to an expression of speech (just look at how long it's taking me to make my point). Some try, "God is love," duh, but without knowledge of God, the statement is meaningless; and knowledge, whether of God, public policy, or how to repair your car, is more often than not, acquired slowly, patiently, sacrificially. Which, of course, is why the Democrats like their little sayings. They're convinced that if it works for some major corporation's marketing department, it will work (and has) for them.

Pope Hillary's recent reference to the Gospel according to Matthew, for instance. She was, no doubt (one strains to conjecture), referring to Matthew 25:31-46, but just appearing to challenge those mean ol' evangelicals on their own turf was all she really cared about. She, her fellow Democrats, and her minions in the MSM, rely on the public education system induced ignorance of those in the body politic who rarely take the time to think beyond this cheerleading nonsense.

What does this have to do with lighting a fire under the Republicans' ponderous collective ass to move ahead on judicial nominees? Just this... the Republicans are living in the past, still believing they must defend their conservatism, and fighting with themselves over whether they can govern. Having no sense of entitlement to power (thank God), like the Democrats, they cower before their experience as a minority party. They simply cannot get used to the fact that the people support them, some of whom are the same people who have been working the past 40-plus years to elect a majority of their sorry butts. So, let's give them a few time-honored slogans to use internally, and kick those butts into action.

"Just do it!" Thank you Nike!

"When you're in command, COMMAND!" (attributed to Chester Nimitz (Henry Fonda) by Admiral Halsey (Robert Mitchum) in the movie, Midway) Thank you Hollywood!

"Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice!" (Not exactly my first choice, the premise is an assumption that we're extremists, but it'll do.) Thank you, Barry!

And my favorite, "The only thing we have to fear is, fear itself!" Thanks FDR! I always believed you were good for something!
-- Mike Showalter
Austin, Texas

Excellent article about the reluctance of Republicans to push the judicial nominees forward. It is absolutely absurd that these judges are still waiting, several years after they were nominated. Some of these Republican senators need to get some backbone, as there are many of us out here in fly over country, that are getting pretty tired of the unwillingness of these senators to do what is right.
-- Dave Parker

PROULX LOVE
Re: Shawn Macomber's The Passion of Brokeback Mountain:

I just had the (dis)pleasure of reading Mr. Macomber's article. I've been slogging through all the blogs and web sites discussing the BBM loss and the aftermath. I do not know where the author came up with comparing Passion of the Christ with Brokeback Mountain or why take pot shots at Ms. Proulx. She could give a fat rats... what he thinks.

The level of disappointment comes from not just the loss to Crash but the precedents set by the loss. No film winning the LA and NY film critics lost best picture; no film winning all three guild awards (DGA, Writer, Producer) lost best picture; no film winning the HFPA, BAFTA, DGA lost best picture and for the past 78 years, the film with the best box office and most nominations lost best picture. Brokeback set all those firsts. AMPAS went out of its way and its own eight decades of voting history to snub Brokeback Mountain.

So Ms. Proulx was a bit hacked off -- good for her. She gave props to Mr. Hoffman (who barely almost rarely mentioned/thanked the person he portrayed).

Yes Brokeback won three Oscars, so did King Kong and Memoirs of a Geisha (one of the worst reviewed films of last year).

Brokeback did not win best picture we can't change that. But we all know that it was/is the most important film of 2005 and probably the decade.
-- D. Stewart
Iowa

Shawn Macomber replies:
Thanks for the note. A few quick bits: I'm glad even if Annie Proulx doesn't give a rat's...what I think, you do. Taking the time to write? It means a lot. Second, two cheers for spontaneity. I had no idea Academy Awards were determined by scientific formula, but I'm glad that's over. It seems so much less romantic. Finally, I have done battle with many others voicing similar concerns in the comments section here. Check it out, if you like.

ACTING LIKE FAKES
Re: Ben Stein's Missed Tributes:

Right on Ben!

As always the Hollywood crew who tries to portray (i.e. act like) heroes on screen have learned nothing from the scripts. Heroes have integrity, something that these narcissists don't understand.

On the other hand, why give them more of what they eternally crave â€"- the mirror of publicity. The worst thing that could happen to Hollywood is if no one paid any attention to them and their parties. My God, what would they do?

I don't spend my time worrying about what these pansies are thinking. I spend my time praying for our troops and thanking God for the tens of thousands of Americans like the Patriot Guard Riders and others who make a point of HONORING OUR COUNTRIES HEROS.

Keep Up the Good Work!
-- Robert Taylor (Formerly US Army Special Forces - Vn)

HORSEFEATHERS REVIVAL
Re: Trent England and Paul Rosenzweig's Horsing Around in Congress:

In their opinion piece "Horsing Around in Congress," Trent England and Paul Rosenzweig opine that protecting our horses from slaughter by and for foreigners is a waste of Congress' time. I could not disagree more. Our horses are a proud part of our American culture and we do not want them butchered. One would have thought two distinguished scholars representing the "Heritage Foundation" would understand this much about our heritage.

But the distortions and errors offered up by these gentlemen are not limited to their basic premise. They state "Low carb dieters should be particularly upset." This is nonsense because the meat from these slaughter houses could not be sold for human consumption in the United States even if there was a market for it. The meat is not inspected for medications and other prohibited substances as would be required were it to be sold here. This is very convenient too, as many of the horses slaughtered have come directly from race tracks and auctions where they commonly receive medications that are banned in food animals. These substances range from phenylbutazone (bute), a known human carcinogen used widely in horses, to drugs used to induce ovulation in mares which can cause spontaneous miscarriages in women who handle them (much less eat meat laced them). Luckily we do not consume this meat and it is dumped in Europe where it is sold as the "healthy alternative" to our "hormone laced" beef.

The authors go on to inform us of other non-facts. For example, they state that the bill does nothing to stop the use of horse meat in dog food and glue. That could be because there is no such usage to stop. All major American pet food manufacturers discontinued using horse meat in the early 1980s. There were several reasons for this, including the fact that Americans don't like to feed one pet to another. Worse, pet food contains entrails and other by-products. This led to the accidental inclusion of the common horse wormer Ivermectin. This wormer can be deadly to certain breeds of dogs of the collie family. The last mom and pop horse meat canner for the pet industry closed its door a few years ago in Chicago. Likewise, while rendered animal proteins are used in some glues, horses are not slaughtered for this purpose.

It is not until their forth paragraph that the authors finally get something right. They state "THE BILL IS REALLY morals legislation." I would point out that the same can be said for the Emancipation Proclamation, our laws against murder, and probably the majority of our body of law. Yes, we as Americans cherish the horse and its contributions to this society and we want to protect it.

But the article gets better. The authors follow with "The legislation also tastes a lot like cultural imperialism." To claim that we are being "cultural imperialists" because we do not wish foreign countries to come here and slaughter our pets and eat them is hyperbolic reasoning in the extreme! I would think that if America appearing to be imperialistic were their true concern, a ban on horse slaughter would be the least of their worries.

Finally, I find it is interesting that these gentlemen are so obsessed about this "excessive" criminalization of the innocent act of brutally killing over 90,000 horses a year. As if the average American is going to wake up tomorrow and say "You mean I can't kill horses for meat anymore?" Protecting the right to slaughter horses seems more important to these gentlemen than laws that continue to be passed limiting our civil liberties in the name of a "war on terror" that has no definable end-point. Even if we all agree that some measures are necessary, isn't that just a tiny bit more worrisome? Wouldn't their powerful intellects be better utilized trying to find ways to avoid trading our liberty for security? If the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act tastes like cultural imperialism to England and Rosenzweig, then their opinion piece tastes like phony "think tank" horse hockey to me.
-- John Holland, horse owner
Shawsville, Virginia

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